Van Zyl wants to fight for SA middle-order berth


Stiaan van Zyl says, if he has a choice, he will not open the batting again but instead wants to fight for a position in the middle-order of South Africa's Test team.

The left-handed Van Zyl, who had never batted at the top of the order in first-class cricket, was thrust into the Proteas opening berth following the retirements of Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen.

The Cape Cobras batsman did not enjoy good returns though, only scoring 56 runs in five innings in India and 69 runs in four innings against England at home before being replaced by Stephen Cook for the final Test.

The 28-year-old has however not given hope of forcing his way into the Proteas Test side, with positions five and six still possibly up for grabs.

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers currently bat at three and four respectively while Temba Bavuma has taken his chance to cement his place in the longest format.

JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis will be the men Van Zyl will probably compete with for the final middle-order batting slot, with Duminy showing inconsistent form in the Test arena while Du Plessis was dropped for the final Test against England at home.

Van Zyl told ESPNcricinfo: "I don't think I'll give opening a go again. If opening is the only place then I'll give it a go, but if I have a choice then I'll go in the middle order.

"I'm normally a No. 3 batter but the only opportunity was for me to open when Alviro [Petersen] retired. So I'm a No. 3 and I gave it a go. It didn't work so well, there's not a lot of difference between opening and No. 3.

"But I'll put the opening aside now and try to focus to get into the middle order. If they pick me then I'd like to bat in the middle order.

"No. 6 is a good spot, somewhere there, if there's a gap. But we'll see what happens because there are still good players there in the Test side.

"Maybe there's some players that don't want to play Test cricket anymore so that could open things. So I'm looking to bat in the middle order if I get an opportunity."

South Africa's next assignment in Test cricket will be in August when they host New Zealand in a two-Test series.